Curing Small Animal Pelts, Squirrels Rabbits etc..

To preserve small animal pelts leading to tanning and finishing. In this Instructable I'm using to excellent Fox Squirrels shot Thanksgiving morning. Some pictures may be graphic :
" Sharp knife
" Large flat working surface such as an old work
bench or a sheet of plywood
" Non-iodized salt


This will not make the pelt soft like tanning, only preserve it in a pliable state.
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Step 1: Go for the head

If you decided to keep the head on, slowly work back the skin with your knife. Be careful not to cut into the hide or you may cause an unsightly gash in your pelt. As a reference, separate the silver skin from the hide. When you get past the eyes, cut around the check muscles then you can pull the rest off.

Step 2: Go for the tail

The tail can be tricky, depending on the size of the squirrel (unless its a nice Ohio squirrel). Split the tail as far down as you can, slowly working out the tail bone/muscle as you go. Once you get to a reasonable spot, snap it off.

Step 3: Strech the hide

Next, use a staple gun to tack the hide down. Try to keep the staples on the very edge of the hide.

Step 4: Salt the hide to properly dry

Add a good amount of non-iodized salt to the hide. Be sure to liberally salt the edges and any folds in the skin. Work the salt into the head and tail. Any unsalted spot is unprotected. You should repeat this after the first application of salt becomes saturated with moisture, usually in two to three days. The curing lasts about ten to fourteen days. With a smaller animal like this (if you prefer) you can simply tack it down and let it dry if you have properly prepared it (i.e. scrapped, cut off any excess, no folds in skin).

Step 5: Cure the pelt

Picture of Cure the pelt
Get a pickle jar and some denatured alcohol. The alcohol preserves the skin and locks in the fur. Mix it 50/50 with water and soak the pelt in it for a day.

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EricGrace6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
you say poor, i say tasty.

im with you zachposey tasty well thats if its cooked right!

tetra28 ZachPosey2 months ago

true story

squirrels are not a sweet little qute animal their crazy and they taste awsome

Poor? Its the circle of life. Deal with it
i agree the circle of life, what a perfect shape
rroberts224 months ago
So can I do this and at a later date tan the hide or is it more of a this or tan. This is my first time skinning a animal andni want to tan it at a later date but just dont want to ruin it.
rroberts224 months ago
So can I do this and at a later date tan the hide or is it more of a this or tan. This is my first time skinning a animal andni want to tan it at a later date but just dont want to ruin it.
tenacious6 months ago

por que no te cortai los cocos

lbjmorris10 months ago
Thankyou for the info. I am an animal lover and personally only take pictures of most wildlife except troublesome rodents. We as a family do eat wild game and raise our own domestic animals for meat. I think the real images are most helpful if you plan on trying this you won't be using a dummy.
bkinsey31 year ago
How many days do you actually salt for? It says could take up to 10-14 days. *This is my first try and I dont want to mess it up too badly* Do I salt until it's moist (& thats takes 2-3 days?) then i repeat until... no more moisture comes out?
BTW thank you for posting this!
jamob1 year ago
What kind of knife is that?
gkkevin1 year ago
I'm kevin from china, we mainly import a batch of tanned rabbit fur all around the year. who can supply these animail pelts, please contact me by my email -
beltza1 year ago
its horrible
Would this also work for a fox pelt?
tincanz2 years ago
Does wood ash make a suitable substitute for salt, brain for alcohol, and extensive movement for Neatsfoot oil?
stinna22 years ago
I have personally gotten the tails out of gray squirrels by pulling them while holding the skin a few inches up from the tail. usually works well. most times you end up with and inside out tail.
tywatters2 years ago
u get all the flesh and fat off it and salt good for 2/3 day the u can get the brain out of the animal mash it up then add 1/2 cups of water then rub it in it call brain tanning . ever animal has anough brain to tan its on hide beide bufflo
stuff94 years ago
 couldn't you just pull the bone out lengthwise
i think that connective tissue would hold on to it. now i have seen a way to skin a squirrel with an air compressor, and maybe you could put some air down in the tail.
yaspeling3 years ago
can i inject the animal with formalin instead of skinning it
kcampain3 years ago
what else can be used if the neatsfoot oil is not available? I don't usually use saddle soap... would a good lanolin lotion work?
aasher3 years ago
You cannot leave that deer in the freezer for too long. If you do it will get freezer burned and the hair will fall out and the hide will disintegrate much faster than a fresh hide, even after it has been cured.
does it make the pelt flexible and soft or does it make it hard and unflexible? and does it remove the hair?
mcaliber.503 years ago
how long do you soak it for?
Hey, would this work for skinning a cat?
great idea man! im gonna start skinnin, all of our cats that get hit
jamesbondd3 years ago
hey there, i was just wondering: my rabbit skins always seem to get really dry and brittle, and they tear quite easily.... do you think putting the dry fur into the alcohol, then putting neats foot oil on it will help, or should i change my curing process?
cemetz (author)  jamesbondd3 years ago
Is your current curing process this Instructable or a different process?
mcaliber.503 years ago
how did the geer pelt go using this method?
can you use regular salt idkk were to get uniodizzed
Any salt is fine, unionised is just cheaper. You can buy it at animal feed stores and co ops.
canning salt works. you can get that at walmart or grocery store
heinzsinvt6 years ago
Does anyone know a local market for rabbit pelts...Montpelier VT...
 Talk with people at your local sporting goods store, usually people make a round every few weeks buying pelts, you just need to know when and where they are.
can i do that with a deer pelt
 i dont see why not, just got A LOT of salt :)
iheart7s5 years ago
cemetz (author)  iheart7s5 years ago
Yes, it mostly did. I aggregated it because I could not find it anywhere. Good catch and props to
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